Today, I received a very worrying call from a client of ours. The client in question has been an SEO customer of ours for over a year and had previously used a competitors service.
A short time ago, our client received notification from Google Webmaster Tools that their previous SEO Company had been granted access again.
Understandably our client was incredibly concerned that something untoward was occurring and immediately called me for advice.
After looking into the issue it appears that Google has had a “Security Glitch” and re-verified previous providers access to Webmaster Tools accounts, this is incredibly concerning as Google Webmaster Tools used incorrectly can cause serious problems for webmasters. This could include:
- Disavowing of Backlinks (a major ranking factor for websites)
- De-indexing of site pages
- Re-direction of URLs
- A host of other settings that are now available to potentially anyone that has previously had access to a clients Google Webmaster Tools account.
Large Firms at Risk
Even more worryingly for larger firms that have in house teams rather than an outsourced SEO company, could now have a major security issue in that disgruntled former employees could have access to their former employers webmaster tools account – something that doesn’t bare thinking about.
At the time of writing Google has yet to comment but we’ll update this post as soon as we hear anything. If any of our clients have any concerns please get in touch in the usual way.
It does seem many accounts have had the problem rectified, but at the time of writing the account I’ve seen today has still not had the access revoked. It appears this problem started around 24 hours ago but given the example I’ve looked at this evening it seems the problem isn’t fully solved?
Update from Google:
“For several hours yesterday a small set of Webmaster Tools accounts were incorrectly re-verified for people who previously had access. We’ve reverted these accounts and are investigating ways to prevent this issue from recurring”